After a three-month stint at 836M in 2016, Loving Still marks award-winning contemporary dance company RAWdance’s second residency at the gallery. From October to December, Co-Artistic Directors Ryan T. Smith and Wendy Rein will develop their project Loving Still in the gallery.
Described as “witty, whip-smart, and beautiful to watch” (San Francisco Chronicle), RAWdance performs from home bases in both the Bay Area and Hudson River Valley. Their newest project draws inspiration from Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love, 1850s -1950s, by Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell. Featuring a collection of more than 300 previously unpublished photos representing what was once called “forbidden love,” Nini and Treadwell’s collection opens up new vistas on the place of same-sex love throughout history.
In response to the collection, RAWdance is assembling a group of eight male-identifying dancers to perform a series of duets “bringing the past tangibly into the present.” Courtesy of the Nini-Treadwell Collection, select photos from the book will be reproduced in large format and mounted in the gallery. The variety of subjects form a cross-section of society over approximately 100 years, from military members to high society’s heirs. Four photographs will serve as the seeds for four duets. To provide an added sense of authenticity, Smith and Rein have invited costume designer Mary Domenico to create outfits for the dancers to mirror the figures in the portraits.
At the beginning of RAWdance’s residency, Isaac Fellman from the GLBT Historical Society joined Rein, Smith, and Shawn Sprockett for a panel discussion on the creative development of Loving Still as well as the interplay of proof and intuition when both artists and archivists work with the historical source material.
Smith and Rein also plan to use Loving Still to explore the queer roots of the historic Jackson Square neighborhood where 836M is located. To that end, they are teaming up with Shawn Sprockett of the Unspeakable Vice walking tour, who will lead special 30-minute excursions through the neighborhood before each closing performance in December. For more information, including how to register for a tour, visit rawdance.org/events/loving-still.
Wendy Rein (Co-Artistic Director) is a native New Yorker and has been dancing and breaking furniture since age 3. With a BA from Brown University, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in the field to her work as a performer, choreographer producer, curator, and teacher. She worked with Misnomer Dance Theater before moving to San Francisco, where Wendy co-founded RAWdance with Ryan Smith and had the privilege of performing with Amy Seiwert, ODC/Dance, Deborah Slater, Alma Esperanza Cunningham, Nancy Karp, Mary Carbonara, and Todd Eckert, among many others. She also worked for seven years both in front of the camera and behind the scenes on a series of dance film projects with RJ Muna. Wendy moved to NY’s Hudson Valley in 2019 as the company expanded to two locations.
Ryan Smith (Co-Artistic Director) Ryan is a queer dance-maker, performer, curator, and connector. A Co-Founder of RAWdance, he has served as Co-Artistic Director since 2004, creating works for stage, alternative locations, and film with creative partner Wendy Rein. He was a member of the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company from 2005-2016, touring nationally and internationally, and participating in collaborations with artists and organizations in Kochin, Kolkata, Guangzhou, and Jerusalem. Originally from outside of Boston, MA, Ryan received his BA in Theatre Arts and French Literature from Brown University before moving to San Francisco. In 2019, after 16 years in the Bay, he moved his primary residence to High Falls, a hamlet in NY’s Hudson Valley.